Missouri and Ozarks History

Information and comments about historical people and events of the Ozarks region and surrounding area.

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Location: Missouri

I'm a freelance writer specializing in the history of the Ozarks and surrounding region. I've written fifteen nonfiction books, two historical novels, and numerous articles. My latest books are Bushwhacker Belles, Wicked Women of Missouri, and Yanked Into Eternity: Lynchings and Hangings in Missouri.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Murphy Movement

I mentioned in my last post about Liberal that the late 1800s were a time of great social and religious experimentation across America. It was also a time of religious revival and reform. One aspect of the reawakening was the abstinence movement, led mainly by women, that swept across the U. S. during the late 1800s and continued into the 1900s. Organizations like the Anti-Saloon League and the Women's Christian Temperance Union sprang up, and their anti-liquor campaigns gave rise to crusading figures like Carrie Nation.
While these groups opposed the consumption of alcoholic beverages mainly by targeting saloons and by trying to get laws against drinking passed, one strain of the temperance movement, called the Murphy Movement, concentrated on the drinkers themselves. Named after its founder, Francis Murphy, who was a former saloonkeeper himself, the movement asked people to sign a pledge not to drink, and they were then given blue ribbons to wear as a token of the pledge. The movement started in Pittsburg, Penn. in late 1876, and by early 1878 it had reached the Ozarks. A series of meetings were held at various churches in Springfield, particularly the First Christian Church located just west of the square, during January and February of that year, and over two thousand people took the pledge. The movement also spread to other Greene County communities like Ash Grove and Walnut Grove and to towns throughout southwest Missouri, like Pierce City, Carthage, Webb City, and Joplin.
By late March of 1878, the movement had petered out in southwest Missouri, having died out about as fast as it got started, but the overall temperance movement did not culminate until many years later with passage of the Prohibition law.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Shawn said...

Thank you for this. For me, it's family history as Francis Murphy was my great great great Grandfather. I am learning about the impact his temperance movement had throughout the United States and your blog adds to yet another location affected by the movement. It is believed that approximately 16 million people signed his pledge card. Thanks again.
Shawn Olson

August 7, 2016 at 5:54 PM  
Blogger Larry Wood said...

Thanks, Shawn. Glad to hear of the family connection, and I hope my entry added even a small amount to your knowledge of the effect Francis Murphy's movement had on the country.

August 8, 2016 at 8:13 AM  

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